Living with a
child with ODD


Living with a
child with ODD

Parenting a kid with ODD can be challenging

They frequently test your boundaries, question your authority, and break the rules. If you have other children, you might have to break up fights on a daily basis.

Here are a few strategies and tips that may help:


Find out the why

Behind every kid with ODD symptoms there is a why. Whether it be because school is hard, they are being bullied on the bus, they are worried about making new friends, etc. nearly every kid has outbursts for a reason. We have found that once you can identify the root cause, everyone feels aligned on how to tackle the issue.


Know what to expect–and don’t take their behavior personally

Your child might call you names, say hateful things, or become physically aggressive. Remind yourself that this doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, or that their accusations are true. Stay calm. Do not get drawn into arguments or power struggles. Remember that children with ODD may seem fearless, but many are anxious and desperate to gain a sense of control over their environment.

Consistency is key

You might feel that the simplest and easiest course of action, especially when you are stressed or tired, is to give in to your child’s demands rather than enforce house rules. However, in the long run, you and your child will benefit if you spell out consequences for inappropriate behavior and then follow through. We know as parents it can be hard to stay strict on rules when you are running out the door late for work or school, but usually if you let things slip once they can come back to bite you later. Consistent routines can be a huge help.


Hold yourself accountable

If you break one of your own rules, you must face the consequences. Children with ODD often feel victimized, so when they see that no one is exempt from the rules, they feel less attacked. For example, if you have a rule against shouting, apologize if you raise your voice. We all yell–this parenting stuff is hard. But when you yell, it can make it easier for your kid to feel like they can yell, too. So if you slip up, take it as an opportunity to model how to apologize.


Keep your expectations realistic

If you want your child’s behavior to change, you must start with small goals. Choose one specific behavior you would like them to change, communicate your expectations, and impose consequences if your child doesn’t cooperate. Behavior change begins with small goals. Try dealing with one thing at a time. We know it can be hard to see the forest for the trees, but big changes begin with small steps.

Look for opportunities to praise your child

Praise good behavior; positive reinforcement is a powerful tool. When your child acts out, deal with it quickly and then move on. Encourage your child to see challenging situations as opportunities to practice positive behaviors.

Get support from people who understand your situation

Sharing your story can be therapeutic, and swapping tips with other caregivers can be helpful. You could join a Facebook group, connect with other parents in an online forum, or attend an in-person support group. This article published by ADDitude magazine features a great story about the experiences of parents of 2 children with ODD. At the end of the day, taking good care of your kids starts by taking good care of you.

Model a healthy lifestyle

A balanced diet, regular sleep, and regular exercise can all have positive effects on child behavior as well. Make healthy living a priority for your family — encourage your children to try new foods and physical activities. Lead by example.

Don’t give up!

Empower yourself by learning about ODD and its treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback treatment, and family therapy are just three options. You may need to try a couple of approaches before finding the right one for your family, but it’s worth the effort. However challenging your child’s behavior might be, they can learn to regulate their emotions and improve their relationships with others. Parenting is hard – but you’ve got this, and we’re all in it together!